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February 25, 2017

What we learned about Alberto Salazar, alleged drug infusions and an email to Lance Armstrong

The Sunday Times today released an article citing a leaked report from U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) dating back to March 2016. Apparently leaked by the Russian-linked hackers Fancy Bears, a group that aims to expose cheating in sport among other classified documents, the report claims that Nike Oregon Project coach Alberto Salazar used prescription drugs and drug infusions on Nike athletes, endangering athletes’ health.

The full Sunday Times story can be read here (paywall).

The USADA report discusses Salazar’s use of the drug L-carnitine. The use of this naturally occurring amino acid was researched by Salazar before. Back in March of 2015 the Sunday Times reported Salazar had ordered over $5,000 dollars worth of L-carnitine and had inquired with USADA on the legality of injecting the drug directly. A reading of USADA and WADA states that that all IV injections are illegal without a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE). Manipulation of the TUE system is also grounds for a suspension.

Major takeaways from today’s report include the following:

  • This is a USADA report that confirms much of the Sunday Times’ reporting of the past two years.
  • Apparently Lance Armstrong and Salazar conversed about the newest grey-area doping techniques. Salazar emailed Armstrong “Lance call me asap! We have tested it and it’s amazing.”
  • Six unnamed American athletes and Mo Farah all received intravenous infusions that “almost certainly” broke anti-doping rules.
  • The phrase “unlawful” was used to describe collusion between NOP team doctor, Jeffrey Brown, and Salazar and to use medication and procedures for performance enhancement.
  • Salazar continues to contend that the use of L-carnitine has always fully complied with the WADA code and the drug was “exactly the way Usada directed.”
  • Farah received L-carnitine injections including one after his marathon debut in London 2014. He has told reporters that he took  an L-carnitine drink but has never mentioned injections. British doctors were alarmed by his recommended Vitamin D usage by Salazar.

This is the part of the growing case against Salazar and the NOP. A June 2015 report by ProPublica’s David Epstein outlined several first-hand accounts of alleged doping violations by Salazar. Allegations by Kara Goucher, former NOP coach Steve Magness, and others detailed possible abuses of therapeutic use exemptions, supplements and testosterone creams.

Following these accusations, and amidst investigation, Salazar posted a 11,000+ word open letter, maintaining the group’s innocence of any wrongdoing.

Shortly after, the Associated Press reported that USADA had began investigating the NOP and Salazar for anti-doping violations.

Update:

Here is USADA’s statement confirming the Fancy Bears leak:

Here is the latest statement by Mo Farah:

Here is how Salazar refuted the allegations, according to Sean Ingle of The Guardian:

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